Monday, June 30, 2014

Ngoc Lan Biography (Part 2 Out of 3)

By 1985, just 3 years after she had relocated to Southern California from Minnesota, Ngoc Lan had managed to make a name for herself in the Vietnamese pop music industry.  From her very first professional recording which was of a song written by Le Minh Bang entitled, Lo Mai Sau (Come What May) produced and released under the music label, Da Lan, her soothing, gentle singing voice quickly caught the attention of various music producers of different Vietnamese music production labels.  The fact that she had been blessed with having perfect pitch in her singing voice made her flawless deliveries in the recording studio seem effortless.  Soon after, Ngoc Lan's infectious style of singing would also make its way into the hearts of the general Vietnamese audience.   By the mid 1980s, Ngoc Lan's childhood dreams of one day becoming a professional singer had finally become a reality.  With a full schedule consisting of her numerous collaborations recording for various major Vietnamese music labels of the day such as Asia Productions, Kim Ngan, Lang Van, etc. along with her steady gig as a contracted regular performer at Ritz nightclub in Anaheim, California and a steadily increasing demand from booking agents for her to perform on live shows for Vietnamese communities throughout the United States and abroad, Ngoc Lan was finally able to earn a living as a full-time professional Vietnamese singer.

Although she had established herself as a singer whose name had gained familiarity in the Vietnamese pop music industry with her recorded songs appearing on numerous compilation albums of different music labels, Ngoc Lan was still one step away from being a star.  The vehicle that was needed in order to solidify her stardom would naturally be a debut solo album of her own.  Prior to the release of her debut album, the positive feedback and warm receptions Ngoc Lan's recordings were given proved as strong indicators in Ngoc Lan's potential as a bankable artist in the Vietnamese pop music industry.  This factor would become clearer and clearer as her popularity and fanbase of followers grew.  At least a dozen different music producers of various different Vietnamese music labels had approached Ngoc Lan with offers to produce her debut solo album since she first appeared onto the Vietnamese pop music scene.  But they would all get turned down by Ngoc Lan.  From even her early days of her singing career, Ngoc Lan had earned a reputation of being a perfectionist.  Staying true to her reputation for being a perfectionist, Ngoc Lan insisted on having complete artistic control for her debut solo album.  This would be the reason for Ngoc Lan's rejection to such offers from several different music labels, prompting her ultimately to make the decision in producing her first solo album herself.  After much delay, finally her self-entitled debut solo album which she was also producer, Tieng Hat Ngoc Lan  would be released in 1986 by Ngoc Lan herself.  Ngoc Lan's debut album would consist of a combination of primarily French and Vietnamese love songs.  Ngoc Lan was well aware of the fact that a huge number of her fans she had acquired in recent years had really taken a strong liking for her recordings of songs in the French language.  Ngoc Lan has reportedly said that she went with her instincts and thought that she would find her niche with French love songs.  To Ngoc Lan's delight, her calculations were accurate.  For many of her die hard fans, the release of her debut album in 1986 had been long awaited and couldn't have come soon enough.  These same fans in turn, after hearing the finished product of her debut album, would share with the consensus that it was well worth the wait. The album was a huge success, both commercially and critically.  Ngoc Lan was finally a star.  Two years after Tieng Hat Ngoc Lan had been released on audio cassette, Ngoc Lan decided to sell the rights to Doi Magazine that would re-release the album available in the form of compact disc.

In the years that followed, Ngoc Lan's career would reach even higher heights, elevating her from stardom to superstardom.  She would be in such high demand, as Vietnamese audiences everywhere couldn't get enough of Ngoc Lan.  Swamped with bookings from all over the world, her busy schedule would entail extensive travels weekend after weekend to faraway destinations to perform at live shows.  At her peak, her performing schedule left her so heavily booked, at times she had to be notified well in advance as early as 2 years prior to the actual date of performance for availability.  Ngoc Lan would be one of the very few Vietnamese singers then who could afford not to be contracted as a regular performer with any local Vietnamese nightclub, as her busy touring schedule would not permit her the time to do so anyway.  During a time when most Vietnamese singers would jump at the opportunity to be under contract as a regular performer for any of the 3 major Vietnamese nightclubs in Orange County; the Majestic, Diamond Nightclub, and of course, Ritz Nightclub, Ngoc Lan was always trying to avoid being bombarded with such offers.

Ngoc Lan's next 2 solo albums would be even bigger successes.  Le Ba Chu, the owner of the label known as Giang Ngoc, had managed to sign Ngoc Lan with a lucrative 2 albums deal that would make her the highest paid Vietnamese recording artist during that time.  Ngoc Lan's 2nd and 3rd albums, Nguoi Yeu Dau (My Precious Love) and L'amour Tinh Ta (Our Love), released under the Giang Ngoc label in the years of 1987 and 1988 under the Giang Ngoc label, respectively.  As it turns out, this record deal from Giang Ngoc label for Ngoc Lan, was a smart business move.  According to Le Ba Chu, both of Ngoc Lan's solo albums produced under his label would end up as the label's the top selling albums of the year.  It would be reported in 1992, 5 years after the initial release Ngoc Lan's 2nd solo album, Nguoi Yeu Dau, had been reprinted a total of 8 times with duplications of audio cassettes and was then reprinted for the 5th time with duplications of  compact discs making it then the best selling ever Vietnamese pop music album that had been produced in the United States.  After the enormous success of 2 consecutive bestsellers on her 2nd and 3rd released solo studio albums, Ngoc Lan was now an even bigger star whose recent accomplishments really seemed extremely hard to match and even impossible to surpass.  Much to everyone's surprise, what was in store for Ngoc Lan's career in the upcoming future would take her to even higher grounds.  Ngoc Lan, who had become a star in the latter part of the 1980s, would enter the new decade in 1990 as a superstar.

(Continue to Part 3)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ngoc Lan Biography Part 1

Ngoc Lan Biography Part 1

Maria Le Thanh Lan, known to her fans as Ngoc Lan, was born on December 28, 1956 in Nha Trang, Vietnam as the fifth child in a family of eight children.  As a young girl, Ngoc Lan was an avid listener of music, particularly French music and dreamed of growing up and becoming a professional singer.  From her early childhood years up until her adolescence, Ngoc Lan as a young girl incessantly sang and hummed for hours on most days.  This habit of hers as a young girl at times became somewhat of an annoyance to her parents and siblings.  Whenever relatives and family friends would pay visits to the Le household, little Lan would take delight in entertaining them in song as if they were her audience.  She would delight these visitors who were in complete amazement of how this little child was so eager to entertain and how she possessed a singing voice with such maturity way beyond her years.   It became more and more apparent to her parents that Lan was musically gifted.  As she approached her adolescent years, her parents granted Lan her wish by enrolling her in music classes and voice lessons.  Lan's music teachers took notice of her sweet, angelic singing voice and how she had perfect pitch which made her stand out from her classmates.  Upon meeting her parents for the first time, one of her music teachers kept praising about Lan, how gifted she was as a music student and even suggested that they should seriously consider a possible future for their daughter with a career singing professionally.  That teacher's suggestion did not make her parents particularly happy.  Like most traditional Vietnamese families, and in particular Lan's family whom were also devout Roman Catholics, a career choice as a professional singer was virtually frowned upon. 

As a teenager, Lan actively participated singing for the church choir and talent shows at school.  Much to her parents' apprehension, Lan's mounting childhood dream of becoming a professional singer one day was becoming more conspicuous and seemed unavoidable as she approached her later teen years.  But with the Fall of Saigon taking place in 1975, as the former state of South Vietnam surrendered to the victorious communist North, lives of many Vietnamese families would undergo dramatic changes.  For the Le family, this was no different.  Upon the reunification of Vietnam, a new regime would impose certain restrictions that would have great effect on Vietnam's performing arts sector.  For Lan, such changes in her country in the years after the war made her childhood dreams of pursuing a professional singing career one day seemed far more distant and even impossible.

In 1980, Lan and her family left Vietnam as boat people seeking refuge in the United States.  She first settled in Minnesota and began her singing career there for the local Vietnamese community.  To avoid confusion with another iconic Vietnamese singer by the name of Thanh Lan, Lan decided to adopt a stage name for herself as Ngoc Lan, which means jade orchid. After establishing herself in the Vietnamese community in Minneapolis, Ngoc Lan relocated to California in 1982.  It was there where she would embark on a full-time singing career, as she started recording for various Vietnamese music production labels based in Orange County, California like Da Lan and Asia Productions.  Through those recordings, her popularity would grow rather quickly which led to an exclusive contract to perform at Ritz nightclub in Anaheim, California, followed by live show performances for overseas Vietnamese audiences all over the world.  In the years that followed, Ngoc Lan would become a superstar among Vietnamese singers, becoming one of the most successful and celebrated "divas" of Vietnamese pop music.   Throughout her incredible career, Ngoc Lan would enjoy a lengthy collaboration with May Productions, the music label responsible for producing seven of her studio solo albums, along with a pair of highly successful solo music videotapes which have been accredited by many  to having revolutionized the overseas Vietnamese music industry and music video production.  Ngoc Lan had achieved superstardom and to her millions of adoring fans, she would forever be a legendary icon of Vietnamese pop music.

(Continue to Part II)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Photos of Ngoc Lan

Photos of Ngoc Lan

What is there to say except that she definitely was very beautiful?  Looking at her photos makes me miss her a bit more each and every time.  


Ngoc Lan was considered the most popular Vietnamese singer in her day.  Her immense popularity throughout the 1980s and 1990s earned her a huge fanbase that spanned over four continents consisting of overseas Vietnamese audiences worldwide, as well as in her native Vietnam.  Ngoc Lan's angelic voice captured the hearts of millions with her audio recordings, in particular her covers of popular French love songs.  At the height of her popularity, Ngoc Lan's singing career abruptly ended due to her being stricken with multiple sclerosis.  On March 6, 2001, Ngoc Lan succumbed to the dreaded disease and passed away.   But for her millions of fans worldwide, her music continues to live on.  Here is a tribute to one of the most beautiful and talented Vietnamese singers that ever lived.